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As lawmakers return to work after their August recess, Hurricane Harvey has increased expectations on Congress to quickly pass disaster-relief tax breaks. September is also expected to bring Congressional hearings on tax reform and possibly the unveiling of tax reform legislation. At the same time, lawmakers must address the federal government’s budget, including the IRS.


Parents incur a variety of expenses associated with children. As a general rule, personal expenditures are not deductible. However, there are several deductions and credits that help defray some of the costs associated with raising children, including some costs related to education. Some of the most common deductions and credits related to minors are the dependency exemption, the child tax credit, and the dependent care credit. Also not to be overlooked are tax-sheltered savings plans used for education, such as the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).


Two recent court cases indicate that, although use of a conservation easement to gain a charitable deduction must continue to be arranged with care, some flexibility in determining ultimate deductibility may be beginning to be easier to come by. The IRS had been winning a string of cases that affirmed its strict interpretation of Internal Revenue Code Section 170 on conservation easement. The two latest judicial opinions, however, help give taxpayers some much-needed leeway in proving that the rules were followed, keeping in mind that Congress wanted to encourage conservation easements rather than have its rules interpreted so strictly that they thwart that purpose.


A partnership is created when persons join together with the intent to conduct unincorporated venture and share profits. Intent is determined from facts and circumstances, including the division of profits and losses, the ownership of capital, the conduct of parties, and whether a written agreement exists. Despite such nuances in the process, however, distinguishing the existence of a partnership from other joint investments or ventures is often critical in determining tax liability and reporting obligations.


Gross income is taxed to the individual who earns it or to owner of property that generates the income. Under the so-called “assignment of income doctrine,” a taxpayer may not avoid tax by assigning the right to income to another.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of September 2017.


After months of waiting, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision on the fate of the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit on June 25 in King v. Burwell, 2015-1 ustc ¶50,356. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court held that enrollees in both federally-facilitated Marketplaces and state-run Marketplaces can claim the credit, which helps offset the cost of health insurance. The decision leaves in place the current IRS regulations on the credit and the regime for administering and claiming the credit.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015-1 ustc ¶50,357) on June 26, 2015 continues what was set in motion in 2013: the expansion of tax benefits to same-sex married couples. In Obergefell, the Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The Court further held that states must recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.


The IRS has responded to criticism from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the National Taxpayer Advocate, among others, that resolution of identity theft accounts takes too long by increasing its measures to flag suspicious tax returns, prevent issuance of fraudulent tax refunds, and to expedite identity theft case processing. As a result, the IRS's resolution time has experienced a moderate improvement from an average of 312 days, as TIGTA reported in September 2013, to an average of 278 days as reported in March 2015. (The 278-day average was based on a statistically valid sampling of 100 cases resolved between August 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012.) The IRS has recently stated that its resolution time dropped to 120 days for cases received in filing season 2013.


A taxpayer who discovers an error after filing his or her income tax return may need to file an amended return. A change in filing status, income, deductions, or credits would require an amended return. This could happen, for example, if an investment broker sends a corrected Form 1099 that changes the amount of dividends or capital gains earned by the taxpayer. Or a taxpayer who sold stock may recalculate the basis of the stock for determining gain or loss. A taxpayer amending his or her federal income tax return may also need to amend a state tax return, to reflect the change or correction.


It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season, the IRS has advised in seven new planning tips published on its website. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, the IRS stated that taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family circumstances, maintain accurate tax records, and more, in order to reduce the probability of a surprise tax bill when the next filing season arrives.


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


The IRS requires that taxpayers substantiate their donations to charity. Whatever the donation is, whether money or a household item or clothing, the substantiation rules must be followed. The rules are complex and frequently tripped up taxpayers who had good intentions but failed to satisfy the IRS's requirements.


Between now and late June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on an important provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit. The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, 2014-2 ustc ¶50,367, where the plaintiffs argue that the IRS erred in extending the credit to enrollees in federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplaces (also known as Exchanges).


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.


In certain cases, moving expenses may be tax deductible by individuals. Three key criteria must be satisfied: the move must closely-related to the start of work; a distance test must be satisfied and a time test also must be met.


As virtual currencies such as Bitcoin rise in prominence and use, the IRS has for the first time described how virtual currency will be treated for tax purposes. The agency concluded in new guidance (Notice 2014–21) that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies like it are not to be treated as currency, but as property.

Yes. Identity theft is a growing problem and the start of the return filing season is one of the peak times for identity thieves filing fraudulent returns. Criminals file false returns early to get refunds and unsuspecting taxpayers are unaware their identities have been stolen until they file their returns. Individuals who believe they have been victims of identity theft should immediately alert their tax professional and the IRS. The IRS has a number of programs in place to assist victims of identity theft.


Taxpayers must generally provide documentation to support (or to “substantiate”) a claim for any contributions made to charity that they are planning to deduct from their income. Assuming that the contribution was made to a qualified organization, that the taxpayer has received either no benefit from the contribution or a benefit that was less than the value of the contribution, and that the taxpayer otherwise met the requirements for a qualified contribution, then taxpayers should worry next whether they have the proper records to prove their claim.


Good recordkeeping is essential for individuals and businesses before, during, and after the tax filing season.


A return or a payment that is mailed to the IRS is timely filed or paid if it is delivered on or before its due date. A return with a U.S. postmark, which is delivered after its due date, is timely filed if the date of the postmark is no later than the due date, the return was properly addressed, and the return had proper postage. The timely mailing/timely filing rule also applies when a taxpayer receives a filing extension. If an envelope has a post office postmark and a non-post office postmark, the latter is disregarded and the post office postmark determines the filing date.


An above-the-line deduction is an adjustment to income (deduction) that can be taken regardless of whether the individual taxpayer itemizes deductions. The adjustment reduces the taxpayer's adjusted gross income (AGI). These adjustments are also sometimes called deductions from gross income, as opposed to itemized deductions that are deducted from AGI. An above-the-line deduction is taken out of income "above" the line on the tax form on which adjusted gross income is reported.


In recent years, the IRS has been cracking down on abuses of the tax deduction for donations to charity and contributions of used vehicles have been especially scrutinized. The charitable contribution rules, however, are far from being easy to understand. Many taxpayers genuinely are confused by the rules and unintentionally value their contributions to charity at amounts higher than appropriate.


The dependency exemption is a valuable deduction that may be lost in many situations simply because some basic rules for qualification are not followed.  Classifying someone as a dependent can also entitle you to other significant deductions or credits.  Here is a rundown of some of the rules and their implications.

Education tax incentives are often underutilized because the rules are so complex. Some of the incentives are tax credits; other deductions. There are also savings plans for education costs. Making things even more complicated is the on-again, off-again nature of the education tax incentives.  Under current law (as of June 2012), several taxpayer-friendly features of the incentives are scheduled to expire.


The number of tax return-related identity theft incidents has almost doubled in the past three years to well over half a million reported during 2011, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Identity theft in the context of tax administration generally involves the fraudulent use of someone else’s identity in order to claim a tax refund. In other cases an identity thief might steal a person’s information to obtain a job, and the thief’s employer may report income to the IRS using the legitimate taxpayer’s Social Security Number, thus making it appear that the taxpayer did not report all of his or her income.

Taxpayers with children should be aware of the numerous tax breaks for which they may qualify. Among them are: the dependency exemption, child tax credit, child care credit, and adoption credit. As they get older, education tax credits for higher education may be available; as is a new tax code requirement for employer-sponsored health care to cover young adults up to age 26. Employers of parents with young children may also qualify for the child care assistance credit.

Claiming a charitable deduction for a cash contribution is straightforward. The taxpayer claims the amount paid, whether by cash, check, credit card or some other method, if the proper records are maintained. For contributions of property, the rules can be more complex.

In recent years, Congress has used the Tax Code to encourage individuals to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes.  The credit is very popular. The Treasury Department estimates that more than 6.8 million individuals claimed over $5.8 billion in residential energy tax credits in 2009.

Americans donate hundreds of millions of dollars every year to charity. It is important that every donation be used as the donors intended and that the charity is legitimate. The IRS oversees the activities of charitable organizations. This is a huge job because of the number and diversity of tax-exempt organizations and one that the IRS takes very seriously.

With school almost out for the summer, parents who work are starting to look for activities for their children to keep them occupied and supervised. The possibilities include sending a child to day camp or overnight camp. Parents faced with figuring out how to afford the price tag of these activities may wonder whether some or part of these costs may be tax deductible. At least two possible tax breaks should be considered: the dependent care credit in most cases, and the deduction for medical expenses in certain special situations.

Often, timing is everything or so the adage goes. From medicine to sports and cooking, timing can make all the difference in the outcome. What about with taxes? What are your chances of being audited? Does timing play a factor in raising or decreasing your risk of being audited by the IRS? For example, does the time when you file your income tax return affect the IRS's decision to audit you? Some individuals think filing early will decrease their risk of an audit, while others file at the very-last minute, believing this will reduce their chance of being audited. And some taxpayers don't think timing matters at all.


The tax rules surrounding the dependency exemption deduction on a federal income tax return can be complicated, with many requirements involving who qualifies for the deduction and who qualifies to take the deduction. The deduction can be a very beneficial tax break for taxpayers who qualify to claim dependent children or other qualifying dependent family members on their return. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of claiming dependents on your tax return, as the April 18 tax filing deadline is just around the corner.


While Congress extended the reduced individual income tax rates with passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (2010 Tax Relief Act) in late 2010, it also extended several educational tax benefits as well through 2012. As families plan their upcoming tax year, it is important to keep these benefits in mind.

Taxpayers may elect to deduct state and local general sales and use taxes in lieu of deducting state and local income taxes for 2010 and 2011. Before Congress passed the 2010 Tax Relief Act (Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010), the sales tax deduction was not available for the 2010 tax year. However, the 2010 Tax Relief Act retroactively extends the sales tax deduction for 2010 and also makes it available for the 2011 tax year.

If you make energy-efficient improvements to your home in 2010, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit that can help lower your tax bill. Two of the main credits for "green" improvements made to a home are the nonbusiness energy property credit and the residential energy efficient property credit. If you qualify for a tax credit, you will need to retain documentation that your energy efficient improvements are eligible for the tax credits you claim. You will need to certify that the property you purchase to improve your home qualifies for the credit - you don't want to purchase items with the intention of claiming a credit only to find out later that the items do not qualify.

Q. I spend 20 hours every week cooking meals and delivering them to an organization that feeds the hungry and homeless. Am I entitled to a deduction for my time and the food I pay for out of my own money?

The answer is no for 2010, but yes, in practical terms, for 2014 and beyond. The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) does not require individuals to carry health insurance in 2010. However, after 2013, individuals without minimum essential health insurance coverage will be liable for a penalty unless otherwise exempt.

Debt that a borrower no longer is liable for because it is discharged by the lender can give rise to taxable income to the borrower. Debt forgiveness income or cancellation of debt income ("COD" income) is the amount of debt that a lender has discharged or canceled. However, in many situations, the canceled debt is excluded from taxable income.

You may have done some spring cleaning and found that you have a lot of clothes that you no longer wear or want, and would like to donate to charity. Used clothing that you want to donate to charity and take a charitable deduction for, however, is subject to a few rules and requirements.

If you have completed your tax return and you owe more money that you can afford to pay in full, do not worry, you have many options. While it is in your best interest to pay off as much of your tax liability as you can, there are many payment options you can utilize to help pay off your outstanding debt to Uncle Sam. This article discusses a few of your payment options.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

With school out for the summer, working parents will not only need to arrange care for their children while at work, but how to do so in a cost effective way. For parents facing a summer season that requires juggling childcare and work (or finding work), the IRS provides a few tax breaks that can help make this balancing act a little less painful to the pocket. From the cost of day camp to summer school, how do you determine what kind of childcare is deductible and what is not? Let's take a look.

In response to the record high gas prices, the IRS has raised the business standard mileage reimbursement rate from 50.5 cents-per-mile to 58.5 cents-per-mile. This new rate is effective for business travel beginning July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008. While the increase is much needed, businesses should evaluate whether the IRS has done enough, or whether a switch to the actual expense method of calculating vehicle expense deductions may make more sense for 2008.

Often, individuals end up with an unexpected tax liability on April 15. There are several options available to pay off your tax debt, stop accruing penalties and interest and secure peace of mind. Each payment method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your financial, and personal, circumstances, and each option should be discussed with a tax professional prior to making a decision. Our office would be glad to answer any questions you have about each payment method.

Only "qualified moving expenses" under the tax law are generally deductible. Qualified moving expenses are incurred to move the taxpayer, members of the taxpayer's household, and their personal belongings. For moving expenses to be deductible, however, a move must:

If you use your car for business purposes, you may have learned that keeping track and properly logging the variety of expenses you incur for tax purposes is not always easy. Practically speaking, how often and how you choose to track expenses associated with the business use of your car depends on your personality; whether you are a meticulous note-taker or you simply abhor recordkeeping. However, by taking a few minutes each day in your car to log your expenses, you may be able to write-off a larger percentage of your business-related automobile costs.

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End-year 2006 tax legislation extended the opportunity to take the optional federal sales tax deduction for tax years 2006 and 2007. The deduction remains the same as in past years, although the IRS standard tables used to figure sales tax in lieu of keeping receipts changes each year due to cost of living and other considerations.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

You can now obtain an automatic six-month extension to October 15 to file your income tax return, Form 1040 -- four months if you are out of the country. You no longer need to ask for an additional two-month extension and do not have to give a reason for your extension request. To obtain the automatic extension, you must submit your request by April 15 (the original due date of the return). Be aware that the IRS will not grant an extension beyond six months.

Q: After what period is my federal tax return safe from audit? A: Generally, the time-frame within which the IRS can examine a federal tax return you have filed is three years. To be more specific, Code Sec. 6501 states that the IRS has three years from the later of the deadline for filing the return (usually April 15th for individuals) or the date you actually filed the return. This means that if you file your return on May 10, 2009, the IRS will have until May 10, 2012 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 17, 2012.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

Q. I use my computer for both business and pleasure and I am confused about how much I can deduct. Also, how are PDAs such as Palm Pilots, etc. deducted for tax purposes?

Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file a joint return. This is a common misconception along with thinking that "married filing separately" applies to couples who are separated or seeking a divorce. As a married couple, you have two choices: file a joint return or file separate returns. Naturally, there are benefits and detriments to each and your tax advisor can chart the best course of action for you.

A taxpayer who may have misplaced or lost a copy of his tax return that was already filed with the IRS or whose copy may have been destroyed in a fire, flood, or other disaster may need information contained on that return in order to complete his or her return for the current year. In addition, an individual may be required by a governmental agency or other entity, such as a mortgage lender or the Small Business Administration, to supply a copy of his or a related party's tax return.


I sold a small piece of property two years ago. Going through my records recently I realized that the gain on that sale was never reported on my tax return. What should I do now?


Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


A pre-tax benefit can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but usually can fit into one of two categories.


Q: An extension to file my tax return seems such a painless procedure, is there any good reason for me not to postpone my filing deadline to avoid just one more hassle during the busy start of Spring?


You have just been notified that your tax return is going to be audited ... what now? While the best defense is always a good offense (translation: take steps to avoid an audit in the first place), in the event the IRS does come knocking on your door, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase the chances that you will come out of your audit unscathed.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


Q. My wife and I are both retired and are what you might call "social gamblers". We like to play bingo and buy lottery tickets, and take an occasional trip to Las Vegas to play the slot machines. Are we required to report all of our winnings on our tax return? Can we deduct our losses?


Q. Last year I underwent a number of elective surgical procedures and would like to deduct the cost of these expensive procedures on my personal tax return. What are the criteria for medical expenses to be deductible? Do they have to exceed a certain dollar amount?


Q. I've seen a lot of advertisements lately that tout the benefits of donating your car to charity. I have an old car that is sitting in my driveway and I haven't had time to try to sell it. Would I just be better off contributing it and getting a big write-off on my tax return?


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


After your tax returns have been filed, several questions arise: What do you do with the stack of paperwork? What should you keep? What should you throw away? Will you ever need any of these documents again? Fortunately, recent tax provisions have made it easier for you to part with some of your tax-related clutter.


Although many taxpayers fear that their return will be selected for an audit, your odds of being audited are about one in 100. If your return fits a certain profile, however, your chances may increase. Filing your return electronically does not put you in any special profile. This year, more than 40 million people are expected to file their returns electronically -- a record number - but that will not increase their odds of being audited. So, take full advantage of e-filing.


We all know to include the amount shown on our Form W-2 as taxable income on our Form 1040, but what about those other items of income, such as severance pay, lawsuit settlements, and disability payments, that occur less frequently?

The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.


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